22nd March 2012 - Last night’s ceremony at the University of Hertfordshire for the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge saw six shortlisted teams from St Albans, Harpenden, Welwyn and Hatfield schools and colleges pitch for a range of awards and prizes including work experience, coaching in job search and an introduction to radio production. The event marked the end of a six month initiative that challenged groups of students, supported by their business ‘Dragons’, to turn £100 into £1,000+ for local charities. This year’s winning team, Athena, from Loreto College in St Albans, raised an amazing £3,006 for St Albans City Youth. The grand total raised by all the teams was £34,606, all of which has been presented to their charities.
“It was brilliant to see the Loreto girls coming together as a team for the benefit of our charity,” said David Wray, Community Leader at St Albans City Youth. “We worked really closely with the school team, supporting and helping each other. For example, the Athena girls baked cakes for one of our events and we sent in three teams to support their quiz night.”
Since September 2011, 25 teams of students from thirteen local schools have worked hard and enthusiastically to devise entrepreneurial ways of earning money for their charities. Their business “Dragons” advised the teams on everything from budgeting and planning to marketing, time keeping and communications. Fundraising projects included: quizzes, talent shows, concerts, cake sales, market stalls, silent auctions, a casino, personal coaching, a pop-up shop and even a flash mob. All money raised by the teams is given directly to their charities.
“The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge is probably the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life,” said Natalie Cumming of My Mustard, Dragon to Onslow St Audrey’s team, Identity. “This was a fantastic opportunity to raise money for Resolve, a small but incredibly worthwhile charity operating within the local community. It also gave me a chance to work with a group of talented youngsters, which was very new to me.”
“We took advantage of every opportunity to raise money, however small; and The Y Factor Event was enormous – the school hall was jam packed, the rock, rap, soul and opera acts were sensational and the street and modern dance would have graced any TV show. The team are a credit to their parents, their school and youth in general, whoever worries about the lack of skill and talent in youth today should meet Team Nebula,” said Victoria Scott, Dragon to Team Nebula.
Winners in other categories included team Switch from St Georges for ‘best example of close co-operation with their charity; Identity from Onslow St Audrey for ‘most innovative product/service’ for staging a dance-a-thon; and The Ministry from St Columba’s College for ‘best use of social media’. The prize for best presentation was awarded to Team Nebula from St George’s School.
“Dragons’ Apprentice is most definitely a fantastic way of engaging aspiring entrepreneurs to work on a project where there is so much mutual benefit; where they can learn much more than they ever could through simple theoretical studies, and develop some understanding of charities and how they work,” said Joe Heaney of charity Resolve.
The Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge is managed by Connect St Albans, a group that links the needs of local voluntary organisations with the skills and resources of local businesses. Led by the Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS) St Albans and District, it has the active support of the University of Hertfordshire, St Albans City and District Council, St Albans District Chamber of Commerce and St Albans Enterprise Agency (Stanta), St Albans Local Strategic Partnership and Oaklands College.
Now in its 3rd year the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge offers Year 12 students the opportunity to experience setting up and running a business, gaining organisational and job related skills and learning about the work and beneficiaries of their designated charity. Any schools, businesses or charities across Hertfordshire that are interested in taking part in Dragons’ Apprentice 2013 should contact Wendy Henrys, CVS Information Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org